Saturday, December 18, 2004

Ice Storm

"Ice Storm" by Helen Tucker, Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, January 2005

This story follows a petty criminal as he tries to take advantage of what he sees as the opportunity of a lifetime.

Ms. Tucker is a competent writer. There were no speed bumps to throw me out of the story. The plot builds logically and naturally.

The main character, Brody, is a small-time booster of merchandise who can't understand why his wife, mistress and the friend who offers him shelter from the ice storm object to the way he makes his living. Ms. Tucker illuminates his character gradually as the story progresses, which leads to one of the problems I have with the story.

I don't feel that enough time was spent illustrating his tiny intellect to make the first big mistake completely believable. Don't misunderstand, it's clear from the beginning that this is not a mental giant we are reading about, but he seems to be fairly clever and competent at what he does. Too clever, I think to make the mistake that first gets him into trouble.

The story is of a type that Ms. Tucker made too readily identifiable. As soon as Brody revealed his plan, I knew how the story was going to end. I didn't know the details, but I recognized the type of story, and I was correct in predicting the ultimate outcome.

In short, it's a nice little story, well written, but it was just a little too predicable for me.